Disclaimer: I own a lot of things, including way too many half-used notebooks, but Harry Potter is not one of them. Nor am I J.k Rowling. Dang.
A/N: Hey guys! I haven't had the time to write anything lately, so when I saw the opportunity this weekend I seized it! I hope you guys like it! I've read some absolutely amazing stories written in stunning, poetic-like verse by Blood Sugar Love, so she/he is partially my inspiration for this story. The other half came from a totally random moment during a volleyball game in which the phrase "Together we are shadow creatures..." (The rest is right below in a later paragraph) came to mind and inspired me to write this.
Summary: The final battle has just ended and Draco is wandering throughout the wreckage, watching, thinking, and finally poking holes in his former ideas about Pureblood superiority. The main focus here is Draco realizing there is no difference between blood types and that we are all human. (Harry dies in this fic, though, just a heads up!) I hope you guys like it! Reviewing would mean the world and a half to me. Thank you and enjoy~
Ever since I was a small child, my father told me that Purebloods were best. No questions, no exceptions, and absolutely no doubt, were ever-present in my gullible little head as these small truths were force-fed to me, by way of silver spoon and silver eyes. It honestly never occurred to me that my father could be wrong. Because of this, my childhood was peppered with misplaced hate, disgust materialized from hollow words and heat-less fire, and spite created by the very man corrupted by it himself; my father. Now, I will not place all the blame on Lucius, because at some point, one grows out of the blind trust inspired by adolescence, and learns to think on one's own. By that time, however, the idea was so firmly ingrained into my head, that to think otherwise would be to completely change who I was. Draco Malfoy, Pureblood.
It was as much a part of me as my own last name, and the hate, as well as the word born from it, were my only truths in life. The world could be disintegrating before my very eyes and yet one thing would unfailingly ring true; I am a Pureblood. Mudbloods deserve to die, they deserve to rot along with Muggles and Halfbloods, they deserve the most painful deaths a wand and the right measure of hatred can supply. They are not human. I am human. I am better.
But now things are different.
It is midnight, and as I emerge from smoke that is pungent with death, my hands tremble. It has been days and weeks and minutes and months that all led up to this battle, careful planning from both sides, the perfecting of spells, the steadying of innocent hands that aim deadly green, and the precision one must master when a situation is life or death.
Or in this case, death and death.
Hogwarts is in ruins. The entire school is nothing more than smoking rubble and crumbling foundation. A crater the size of Gryffindor's common room gapes in the very center of it all; this is the place that Potter lived up to his title once and for all. Here, only hours ago, the Chosen one lowered his wand and offered everything, just so there would be a little less evil in the world. The power of Voldemort's spell, Potter's snuffed life force, the Horcrux, and the Elder Wand blew a hollow bowl into the earth, a crumpled child left in the center of it all. Because, really, that's what Harry Potter was; a child. Beneath that scar and name and past was a teenager with more pain in his eyes than most men.
My right leg is a bloody burden. A chunk of what could be either the Great Hall or the Quidditch Pitch is lodged firmly in my thigh, and the fear of even more pain prevents me from trying to remove it. So, I trudge on; my bloody, gaping, wound revealing ropy muscle and ivory bone, showing far too many people just how human I am. How breakable.
Weasley and his endless list of relations crowd around a body with similarly red hair, absolutely silent save for the strange sounds coming from one of the older brothers. Perry? The bossy one. He buries his face into the body's robes and screams with a throat full of gravel and twisted sobs. He sounds like a tortured animal.
The survivors are not organized at any particular location, there is no head count, nor check list. Instead, those who managed to crawl through death's jaws without being devoured, wander. They look around dazedly, gaze unfocused, fingers twitching and spasming from too many spell castings, dimly aware that they are looking for something but not sure what. Surviving something like this is like being under water for too long. Your chest is a boot laced too tight, your heart beat slows until it is but a faint thud blooming beneath fragile breast bone, your brain is feather-light; so fuzzy-vague and without thought, that you feel it could slip from your skull and float away. It is a detached feeling of pain, a dreamy sort of hurt. It is horror edged in lace and bitter honey.
If my mother was here she would accompany me with her head high. She would keep her eyelids disinterestedly lowered; shutters blocking out the true-blue emotion hiding in her pupils. She would casually scrub the dried blood from her chin, forget to wince at the red smile sliced across her leg; she would squeeze my shoulder lightly or, if my father wasn't looking, my hand. If my father was here he would clap his hand over my shoulder too, but his palm would be rough and coarse even through layers of clothing. His first step forward would be with his cane, its emerald serpent eyes glittering with power. He would readjust his robes to cover the gaping wound in his side, and squeeze the back of my neck in warning if I didn't do the same. Malfoys never show weakness, he'd say.
But they aren't here. Who knows what side of the afterlife they ended up on.
It's been a handful of minutes and seconds and shallow breaths since the last spell was cast, maybe a few hours. Regardless of time, people are beginning to gather around the Boy that Nearly Lived. They stand at the edge of the crater, somber and still, gripping whatever hand is in closest proximity. The red-haired third of the Golden Trio is not standing. Instead he crouches at ground level, glassy eyes fixed upon the boy lying in the center, fingers twitching as if eager to reach out and help. He mouths a hundred words intended only for a corpse's ears, wrings his hands hard enough to leave red streaks across pale skin, before leaning in and speaking. "You bloody wanker," he chuckles in a way that could also be sobbing. "You always tried to save everyone before yourself. A Gryffindor to boot," he wets his lips and glances at the toes of his shoes as if shy. "I-I miss ya already, mate, I really do." Weasley's voice breaks at the end, like a spider-web crack inching its way across a window pane. He hated spiders, didn't he? "Thanks, Harry. For everything." Then, he walks away from the hole, pushes his way through the crowd of mourners, most likely so he can try to put another brother to rest. What was his name? Fred or George? Can't remember- could never tell them apart. Perhaps only in death are they distinguishable.
A man approaches me, eyes wild, and asks if I know of a girl called Lavender. "My daughter, have you seen her?" The fear in his voice is so thick that it sticks to my skin like slimy residue and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I saw her crumpled figure underneath a bush only hours ago. I saw the Patils sobbing over her still form, watched as Mcgonagall dutifully pulled a white sheet over her body. Stood like a silent ghost as they carted her corpse off with the others. "I haven't sir." This is my only answer because the truth is too much to swallow- too bitter a pill- so a partial honesty is the best route. I can't bring myself to tell him the truth. He thanks me anyway, and the hope in his eyes is so real, so tangible, that my stomach twists with guilt. When he turns and leaves, I vomit.
Morbid curiosity drives me to the Dark Lord's remains. The only evidence that he wasn't just a nightmare lies in the form of his splintered wand and Potter's corpse. Harry looks so peaceful, eyelids fluttered shut, mouth loosely pressed into a semblance of a smile. Stress lines absent, his face looks younger than it had in life. However, the most notable difference is the absence of his scar. Without the blood-red lighting bolt and circular glasses, Potter looks like any other seventeen year-old. Except, if you look around at all the living, breathing bodies that his life saved, you realize he was anything but typical.
For some unknown reason I gravitate toward the forbidden forest, or at least what is left of it. After walking for less than a minute, I come to a clearing. Granger stands there, wand gripped loosely, her hair matted with blood and dirt, staring down at a black figure with empty eyes.
"Killing isn't as hard as I thought." Her words echo inside my head for a moment before I understand. She thought she could escape this war as a whole being, morals and identity still in tact. Fate is not so kind. I keep my eyes locked on the dirt floor, but I can feel the heady force of her stare as if it is tangible.
I know she hates me, and I feel no change of heart for her, but here we are. Not cursing, not screaming, just standing in a place where our common ground is littered with mutually familiar bodies. Where Avada- green ribbons wrap around our eyes and tongues, silky and slippery and easy to coil and twist. Tragic how we both understand that nooses can be made from ribbons.
Together we are shadow creatures. Beautifully broken bags of skin cloaked by merciful midnight. We are surrounded by our classmates, but the light has long left their eyes. This entire expanse of childhood- our childhood- is tinged green with death. Not another Quidditch game will occur above us, no more snowball fights, laughter, lazy studying by the lake, or smiling in the sunshine as it filters through green-leaved trees. We stand in a wasteland of dreams and shattered innocence.
There is already too much silence, mouths muffled by forever sleep, so we, a pair with capable tongues and unopened throats, are ungrateful for this privilege of words by not talking. I can tell she has everything to say, but absolutely nothing at the same time. "Its over," I mumble to the floor. Granger grips the wand until her knuckles look like pearls. "I'm done, Malfoy," she whispers, gaze unfocused. "I can't belong to this world any longer. I'm done." With suddenly wild eyes, she snaps the wand in half, then quarters, and squeezes the splinters in her fist, oblivious to the blood running down her arm.
"S-so much death," she says hoarsely. "Lupin, Tonks, Fred- so many people gone. I can't b-breath," Her chest rises and falls in violent jerks. She looks at me with desperation, chapped, bloody lips parting in question, "Is Harry alive?" And I know Granger isn't expecting me to say yes; she's not stupid. "He went without pain. One quick curse and-"
"Stop," She begs, mouth pursed, eyes shut tight. "Please."
Her friends are dead. So many people she loves are gone, wiped from the face of the earth like smudge. "I'm sorry." The words bubble from my lips before I can consider them, but for some reason, I don't care. We stare at each other for a beat longer before my own voice- surprisingly- breaks the silence. "My parents are dead," This softly spoken confession floats up into the air like curls of smoke, suffocating the space between us. "I had to watch one of the Order kill him the muggle way. Bled out in minutes." I close my eyes and feel sick. "My mother took a spell for me." It feels like someone is twisting a knife in my chest.
"D-do you think anyone will learn from our mistakes? Do you think anyone will look at this war and finally realize what hate does?" The undeniable passion in her voice makes me finally meet her eyes. "Please, tell me they will," she begs, "Something good must come from this, Malfoy, it just has to." I close my eyes.
"My side is as dead as yours, and the blood that pools from their bodies runs red, Granger. Did you hear me? It's all red. It has taken loss, pain, death and too many years to finally see this one absolute truth; none of it matters. There are no Mudbloods, or Halfbloods, or even Purebloods. There are only people." She stares at me, hardened, amber eyes peeling back layer after layer of my defenses, protections, deceptions, to see if I mean what I say. Her hands are deep burgundy with dried blood, her wand still lies on the ground in splinters, but something in her eyes has changed. "If you of all people can see that, maybe there is hope." The silence that follows feels slightly lighter than before. "You should go find Weasley," I say at last. "I have a feeling he needs you right now." She bites her chapped lips, tearing another scab open in the process, and nods. "I will," Granger takes a few measured steps before glancing over her shoulder, profile framed by the moon's single ray. "I'm sorry about your parents, Draco. Make the best of second chances." And the first smile I've seen in months graces her lips. It is a sad smile, a bitter smile; a smile filled with pain and salted scabs, but a smile nonetheless. Hope nonetheless.
It's time to leave. The ministry has finally screwed its head on properly and sent officials and any Aurors not already present to help survivors. Efficiency and order are what floo people to St. Mungos at top speed, what wrap up bodies like white-paper Christmas presents; they are what keep my head from imploding. Without order and efficiency we would still be curled into tight balls of yarn, guts and innards ready to spill and run for miles like loose string. The ministry has a head count, a check list, and a clue. The sea of injured students and teachers part as a Ministry woman with pin-needle lips and flat black eyes strides toward me. "Mr. Malfoy, come with me please."
There is paperwork, files, shaky signatures, agreements, dirty coins, sacks of gold, clammy hand shakes and fine print that precede my new title, Head of the Manor. It's mine. Every room, every thread of spider web silk, every crack and crevice, every sound, smell, sight, and second within these walls are mine. All mine.
Too much for one person.
Loneliness is cured when I meet an old housemate, as beautiful and cunning as she always was. We fit together like puzzle pieces, because where her battle scars end, mine begin. She fills my empty holes with warmth and patience, and I stitch her wounds with care and love.
Astoria and I take a collective breath and try to bring this house alive again. Our first success in doing so comes in the form of a child. Scorpius Lucius Malfoy, to be exact. He looks like your father she tells me. He looks like you. But he won't be like me or my father, and we make sure of that with her kind hands and my careful ones. A ceremony is held every three years to honor those that fought in the war, especially Potter, but that was a given. A statue erected in his honor remains forever young, forever bespectacled, in Hogwarts' newly reconstructed courtyard. Every now and then, when my wife and I visit to make our annual donations, I see Granger. She reminds me so much of Mcgonagall sometimes, that hiding a smile is near impossible. She and Weasley popped out a pair of equally red-haired, inquisitive-minded children, both stuck with at least one class taught by their mother. Joy.
I can never stomach the ceremonies. There is too much confetti and champagne and sparkling apparel; too much irrelevance. The war was about hatred and wrongly spilled blood, not color coordinated decor. So instead, I apparate to Godric's Hollow, the place where the Potter family is together at last. The wind pricks at my skin like tiny chips of ice, and the cool air turns my breath to ghosts, but I do not notice, for my only focus lies on the grave labeled Harry. "It's been years, Potter," I begin quietly, and the wind whispers through tree branches, almost in response. "I just wanted to say, thank you. Thank you for giving up everything just so the rest of us could live. I know I made stupid mistakes- fatal mistakes- and I have to ask you to forgive me for that too. I was stupid and young, and the thought of being a follower seemed promising." I chuckle without humor. "I did say I was a fool, didn't I? I may have been a total prat to you for all those years, but deep down I was always envious. You were the poster child of righteousness and bravery, how could I not feel jealous? Granger and Weasley are doing fine, by the way, married with two kids. Ginny is happily married as well. They made a statue of you, isn't that interesting? But anyway; Potter, you were the most selfless person I'd ever known, and niether you nor your actions will ever be forgotten. I'll make sure of that. Rest in peace, Harry." And I carefully place a single green-stemmed rose on his grave.
I am a composition of childhood mistakes, teenage years sprinkled with missteps, blood, blood, blood of the same color and texture subdivided and labeled accordingly. My roots dig into the black earth of a mother strong enough to love, but too in fear to show it and a father with good intentions but all the wrong words and hands. In the past I am fighting, baring teeth, refusing help, gravitating towards darkness. Sweet, muffled, rich-black darkness. In the past I am pale-faced, peeking beneath an over-sized black hood, foreign marks scarring the white skin of my arm. In the war I am among lies, lies, lies, soon to be shattered, and broken dolls, but mostly children, scattered amongst a former haven. I am a mix of Malfoy pride and Black independence; a blend between bully and broken boy sobbing into the sink, a deserted bathroom his only refuge. I am a Slytherin-green Phoenix rising from the ashes, brought back to life with second chances and words spoken by a girl's silhouette against the moon light. I am a father, seeing my reflection in my son's eyes but knowing he'll do better and a husband seeing endless warmth in my wife's eyes and knowing I'll never stop trying to do best. In the aftermath I shake Ron and Hermione Weasley's hands and drop rose petals and sincerity on Harry Potter's grave. I marvel at the statue as much as the rest of them. I am a lost soul that finally invested in a road map, someone who has seen the light and never craves for darkness again. I am a composition of many things, a collection of many things, but all in all I am human. Mudbloods, Halfbloods, Purebloods run in the same vein, of the same texture, color, and worth.
Mud, Half, Pure- no, just human. It has taken me this long to understand, but now that I do, this is a truth I will never let go.
Peace, at last.
What makes us human.
Such soothing sounds.
A/N: So, what do you think? That last paragraph was one my favorites to write. ;D Thank you a billion and ten times for reading, and if you really really wanna win "Best Person in the World" award you should review. Or PM me! OH MAN, OR BOTH. If you do both you officially have "Best Person in the Universe" in the bag. But anyway, I really hope you enjoyed that at least to some degree and, again, thanks bunches for reading!